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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"Windowlicker" is a 1999 single by electronic music artist Richard D. James, released under the Aphex Twin name on Warp. The artwork is by The Designers Republic. The single reached #16 in the UK Singles Chart.

The name of the single comes from the derogatory British term "windowlicker," meaning a mentally handicapped person. The term is also a direct English translation of the French term faire du lèche-vitrine, meaning "window shopper," a second meaning played up in the song's video.

Music video

The music video for "Windowlicker" was directed by Chris Cunningham, who had also directed Aphex Twin's previous music video, "Come to Daddy". It is a ten-minute long parody of contemporary American gangsta hip-hop music videos. In the video, two foul-mouthed young men (a Latino and an African American) in Los Angeles are window shopping for women (referred to in the end credits as "hoochies"); the French term for window shopping is faire du lèche-vitrine, which literally translates to "licking the windows". Suddenly, a ridiculously long white limousine (38 windows in length, including driver's window, which takes 20 seconds to fully display) crashes into the two men's black Mazda Miata NA (MX5) convertible, and a "pimped-out" Richard D. James, displaying a hyperbolic amount of wealth and power, emerges with his signature fixed grin. The two women, among others, accompany James in his limousine while their faces morph into James' own likeness, and are later joined by a woman with a horrifically ugly, buck-toothed, deformed face, which was later illustrated in a sketch by Swiss artist H. R. Giger titled "The Windowlickers".

The James's faces aren't digitally morphed on the women. Masks and make-up were specifically designed by the production, to achieve the desired morphing effect.

The cast for the dialogue intro of the clip are Marcus Morris, Gary Cruz, Marcy Turner and Chiquita Martin. Filming was done in the Los Angeles area. The locations are as follows:

  • Intro sequence – East 1st Street (bridge over railroad tracks)
  • Aphex Twin dance sequence – Corner of Ducommun Street and North Vignes Street
  • Limo ride externals – Beverly Boulevard
  • Final dance sequence – Santa Monica Beach (Barnard Way and Ocean Park Boulevard)

There are 127 uses of profanity in the dialogue segment of the video (which is under 4 minutes), including 44 uses of the word fuck. This averages to more than one use of profanity every two seconds. The video was released as a VHS single, containing both uncut and censored versions (the latter being referred to as the "Bleep Version"). It was also nominated for the Best Video award at the BRIT Awards 2000, alongside videos by Supergrass, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, and eventual winner Robbie Williams.

The full "Windowlicker" video is restricted to being broadcast only during the nighttime on most music television channels. A bleeped-out version of the video exists, and MTV Two even made a daytime version, with all the opening dialogue removed (the censored version starts with the arrival of the limousine) and some of the video's more shocking images are also removed. In 2008, MTV Networks Europe was fined by media regulator Ofcom for several breaches of its broadcasting code, including airing the uncensored version of the "Windowlicker" video before the 9pm watershed.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Windowlicker" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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